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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Electric Car Prices Will Drop

Batteries are the biggest cost in an Electric Vehicle (EV) today. However, EVs are far from the only things that use batteries. Ever since the first mobile phones, our demand for smaller, longer lasting batteries has been growing.

Evolution of mobile phones
As we move into wearable technology, e.g. smartwatches, this trend will continue and EVs will benefit greatly in both cost and range.

How much will prices drop? Future estimations are difficult, but there are some techniques that can be used.

First, are there any immediate technological barriers? Looking at recent research shows that minor improvements are being made in labs around the world. Many of these make great claims that they will result in 4 or 5 times the battery performance. These claims are likely exaggerated greatly, but the volume of them alone likely means that the trend in production price reductions will continue into the near future.

Second, are there any long term barriers? Several technologies are vying to be the next big thing: lithium-sulphur, lithium-air, solid state batteries, graphene, ultracapacitors... One or more of these (or something new) will likely continue the trend beyond the ten year horizon.

Finally, now that we have some assurance that the trend will likely continue, we can ask, "What are the historic trends?".

Below are two graphs that show historic battery prices, as well as future predictions.

If these predictions are accurate, by 2025 plug-in cars become a no-brainer. They will be affordable, cheaper to fuel, lower emissions, and have better performance. The bulk of new car sales will be cars with cords.

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